Saturday, December 20, 2014

DARK CHOCOLATE EGGNOG TRUFFLES

Eggnog is definitely a beverage of the season, so if you have some around, here's a great recipe! You can never have enough truffles during the holidays! Buy the best eggnog you can--or make your own! I love Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles!

Dark Chocolate Eggnog Truffles

Ingredients
3/4 cup eggnog
11 ounces dark chocolate 60%+ cacao, chopped
3 Tbsp sweet butter, cut into small cubes
2 Tbsp superfine sugar
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

Directions
Heat eggnog over medium heat almost to boiling point, whisking constantly. Do not boil.
Immediately remove pan from heat, turn heat to low. Add chocolate and butter to eggnog. Stir until chocolate is completely melted, returning to low heat if necessary.
Pour mixture into mixing bowl and beat with electric mixer at high speed for 5 minutes. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until mixture is firm but pliable.
In small bowl, mix superfine sugar with nutmeg and cinnamon; set aside. (you can also add cocoa)
Take 1 teaspoon of chocolate mixture and roll into ball, then roll in sugar mixture.
Place truffle in foil cup or on waxed paper tray (I don't use cups but they look festive if you do). Repeat.
Store truffles in airtight container in refrigerator.

Don't have time to make Eggnog Truffles? 
 Starbucks sells Eggnog Latte Truffles. 
Godiva has them in their 12 piece Truffle Holiday Box.
Check your local chocolatier!

Cartoon of the Day: Gingerbread House


Friday, December 19, 2014

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Crust

In the holiday spirit? Why not make this Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Crust for Christmas Eve, Christmas, or just to have around the house while you're wrapping presents? It's so easy and Perfect for the Holidays!

The original recipe for this Chocolate Peppermint Pie is adapted from the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, so there's lots of butter, cream cheese, and whipping cream. I dressed this up even more by adding a Chocolate Peppermint Oreo Crust using Holiday Oreos. I love Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joes. This is a great crust for lots of holiday desserts.

Chocolate Peppermint Pie with Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust


Peppermint Oreo Pie Crust
2 1/4 cups of crushed Trader Joe's Candy Cane Joe Joe's (oreo-like with peppermint filling), finely ground
2 1/2 ounces of melted butter

Combine cookie crumbs with melted butter in a bowl.
Pour mixture into 9 inch pie pan and press into bottom and up sides evenly.
Smooth surface with the back of spoon.
Refrigerate pie crust for at least an hour.


Chocolate Peppermint Pie Filling 

Ingredients
1/2 cup sweet butter, softened
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pasteurized egg product* (egg beaters or similar product to avoid the raw egg controversy)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup white chocolate chips or white chocolate bar, chopped -- melted and cooled
1/2 cup (20) peppermint candies, crushed
1/2 cup dark chocolate (60-75% cacao) chopped - or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled
some more crushed peppermints candies

Directions
In bowl, beat butter, cream cheese and sugar together.
Combine egg product and whipping cream, and gradually add to butter mixture while beating, scraping bowl often. Beat until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reserve half of mixture in small bowl.
Add cooled white chocolate to remaining half of mixture; beat well. Stir in crushed candy. Spread in pie crust; chill 10 minutes.
Return reserved butter mixture to bowl, add cooled dark chocolate; beat well. Spread over white chocolate layer.
Sprinkle with crushed peppermint candies. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

* you can always substitute eggs  (6 large eggs, but it depends on the size of the eggs, you can always start cracking eggs and measure)

Tips for Making the Very Best Cookies!

The Holidays are all about Cookie Making, and I've seen some wonderful new recipes and decorating techniques this season. Be sure and do a few searches to expand your Cookie Repertoire! You can never have too many cookie recipes!

Here are a few Cookie Making Tips. Love to hear any tips you have.

COOKIE MAKING TIPS

1. For me the most important 'rule' (this is not a tip) is to make sure you Chill the Dough. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. While you're working, if the dough becomes soft, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

2. Use the Correct Ingredients. If you haven't made the recipe before, follow it exactly and measure the ingredients carefully.

3. Up for debate: Some say that you should always roll out your dough between sheets of Wax Paper, not Parchment, because wax paper peels easily off the top of the dough. If you do this, you can then cut out the cookies, and they'll peel right off the bottom sheet. And, yet, some people swear by parchment. Give them both a try and see what you think.

3. Add Salt and Leavening to Butter and Sugar Mixture. If you really want your salt and leavening well distributed throughout the dough, beat it in with the butter and sugar.

4. Fats are major to the spread of a cookie. Generally speaking, fat equals flat, crispy cookies while less fat equals higher, cake-like cookies. Speaking of fats: Whipped spreads are not good for baking. Use butter, margarine, or shortening (Crisco). I mostly use sweet butter, and I add salt as an ingredient.

5. Sugars: White sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar absorb moisture after baking, so they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars.

How to keep brown sugar soft? Put a marshmallow or a piece of white bread in the container. The white bread won’t get moldy nor will the marshmallow, and you’ll always have soft brown sugar. I like marshmallow better .. maybe it's just aesthetics.

6. Mixing: Proper mixing is important. Some recipes have a creaming step in which the fat and sugars are beaten together until light-colored and fluffy. Other cookies require a sandy texture, so the fat is cut into the flour. Over-mixing can incorporate too much air into the dough, resulting in flat, overly spread-out cookies. Follow the recipe instructions.

7. Temperature: Unless specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. Yes, Virginia, take the butter out the night before. For cut cookies, chill the cookie dough before baking. The cookies will hold their shape better. For drop cookies, you can keep them at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out.

8. Equipment and Baking: Not surprising to anyone who bakes, different baking sheets and ovens produce different results. I use rimmed baking sheets (jellyroll pans) for cookies rather than thin flat sheet pans, although some people swear by flat unrimmed cookie sheets. Instead of greasing each baking sheet, I use parchment for easy cookie removal and clean-up. Some of my friends use a silipat liner, but I don't.

9. Use fresh ingredients. I always replace baking soda, flour, spices, and baking powder at the beginning of the season. This goes for chocolate, too, of course! You're working hard on these cookies, and you want the very best ingredients.

10. Making a big batch of cookies? Be sure and cool the cookie sheet before baking another batch. Otherwise your dough might melt, and you'll have weird looking cookies.

11. Be sure and cool cookies on a wire rack. Don't skip this step or the bottoms might become soggy. And, definitely cool completely before storing them.

Love to hear other tips! Please comment!